Time for Patients to Get more Attention
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30 June 2009
By Anuradha Mascarenhas
Patients facing trouble to ensure timely medical aid or protesting against wrong treatment have reasons to cheer. For the first time, a state level ‘patients rights forum’ has been set up to help them.
“We decided enough is enough,” says Dr Abhay Shukla who, as the convenor of the Jan Arogya Abhiyan, took the initiative. Organisations like Aarogya.com, Rachana Trust, Saheli, Lokayat, Masum and others have come together to set up the forum to be officially launched on July 19 in Pune.
Another move to assert patients’ rights is on, in the form of an e –petition that has more than 200 signatures. It was sent to Maharashtra Health Minister Rajendra Shingne on Friday.
The petitioners and the forum are planning to make patients’ rights an issue for the Assembly polls, said Shukla. “We believe patients are inherently vulnerable in the doctor–patient relationship and need to be protected with a legally enforceable Standard Charter of Patients’ Rights. Establishing patient rights will improve our health care system,” state more than 200 petitioners from USA and India in the petition. The Association for India’s development in USA has several members who have signed the e–petition.
Patients should know how and where to report any denial of rights by a doctor, nursing home, hospital or other health facility, says Shukla.
They have suggested a participatory redressal mechanism in the form of district level committees, with representatives from the government, hospital owners, medical practitioners and consumer and health organisations.
According to Shukla, the Maharashtra Assembly amended the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act in December 2005 to pave the way for mandating minimum standards to be followed by nursing homes/hospitals for ensuring quality of health care. A Charter of Patients’ Rights has been included in the 2006 draft BNHRA rules (Section 16, Rule 14). These draft rules that have been on the Maharashtra Government web site since July 2006 but still have to be approved.